With the second installment into the new High Republic era being released next week, I thought it was a good time to give a small rundown of what has happened in this new era of Star Wars so far.
The era takes place roughly 200 years before the Phantom Menace when the Republic is flourishing and the well known planets in the outer Rim are just being settle and terraformed. The main focus of the current Chancellor is to unite the entire galaxy under the rule of the Republic and bring the wealth of knowledge and technology to all corners of the galaxy. The Jedi have been prospering for decades and have basically not had to fight any significant faction for a long time. They have created outposts and schools on several planets and are working with the Republic to build Starlight Beacon. Starlight Beacon is a massive Space station that will act as not only a relay from the galactic core to the outer rim, but will also house a Jedi contingent as well as several other independent areas each dedicated to its own purpose. This is also the time when Bacta, the magical healing fluid prevalent in much of Star Wars media is just being discovered and the ingredients are being mass produced. The galaxy itself is in a state of untold prosperity. Large Agricultural centers are being constructed on groups of worlds while many are venturing to the outer rim to stake their claim and build their name on the frontier worlds. The book starts off with a large catastrophic event during which a large freighter, which has been converted to a passenger liner bound for the outer rim, collides with an object in hyperspace. The collision causes the ship, the Legacy Run, to fracture into hundreds of pieces, each dropping out of hyperspace at random times and distances causing havoc on anything the pieces impact. The Jedi are dispatched to help avert large scale disaster but even their might is tested by this unprecedented event.
On top of this disaster, the frontier worlds are stuck dealing with a faction known as the Nihil. These “space Vikings” attack wealthy planets and ships to steal their resources for their own gain. The reason that these raiders have been able to reign unchecked on the border worlds is that the influence of the Republic hasn’t reached those areas yet. Not only that, but the Nihil have found a way to navigate slipspace without using the predetermined hyperspace lanes. This unknown form of navigation allows them to appear and disappear like ghosts. It also prevents any form of security force from pursuing them should they get the opportunity.
The main characters that we follow during this book are: Padawan Bell Zettifar and his master Loden Greatstorm, Padawan Burryaga, Jedi Master Avar Kriss and Jedi Knight Elzar Mann. Bell and his master as stationed at one of the many outposts I the Outer Rim when they are called to action to assist on the planet Hetzal Prime. Hetzal Prime, or as it’s called in the book, the Hetzal System, is a major Agricultural production system in the Outer Rim. The three planets that make up the production facility are the main producers of the plants required for the manufacturing of bacta. When the Legacy Run breaks apart, some of the pieces emerge into the Hetzal system destroying their early warning array and several of the orbiting satellites. When the distress call went out, Jedi master Avar Kriss answered the call with a full fleet of Vector fighters and Longbeam ships to assist the doomed planets. The main problem was that the Legacy Run was transporting several tanks of Tibana Gas. This gas is highly toxic and very volatile in its natural state. One of the sections of the Legacy Run that housed the gas emerged from hyperspace and was careening towards the Sun of the Hetzal system. Without someone stopping the gas, the canisters would impact the sun causing it to go supernova and incinerate the entire system killing everyone. Master Kriss uses her unique ability to act as a conduit to the force for those around her. She connects to all the Jedi in the system and several other across the galaxy. She manages to channel the force and through her and several other Jedi on hand they push the piece of debris housing the canisters, which is moving at several hundred kilometers an hour, away form the sun out into deep space. Several Jedi did lose their lives in the attempt to save the system from destruction but the system was saved and following their relief, the Jedi now needed to find out what had caused it.
Bell Zettifar is still working with his master Loden to work on his slow-fall ability when jumping or being thrown from a great height. While he and his master are practicing the Nihil make a desperate play for a wealthy family on the same planet as the Jedi outpost. All the Jedi respond and they are able to save the family though, Loden is injured and captured in the process.
The Republic fleet bolstered by a large Jedi contingent confront several other Nihil ships in a large space battle which was orchestrated by the mysterious Marchion Ro, the “Eye of the Nihil”. He uses this battle and the failure to capture the family as a means to seize control of the Nihil for himself.
The Nihil are the main antagonists during the era of the High Republic; at least in the beginning. They are a marauding group who stick to the Outer Rim territories conducting anything and everything that will earn them a quick buck. The Nihil represent not one but dozens of species in the galaxy who band together in a sort of Space Viking. The Nihil are broken down into 3 separate “Tempests” or fleets. Each Tempest is headed by a Tempest Runner. This is normally their best fighter or the most cunning. Each tempest is only loyal to their tempest runner, the tempest runner in turn is loyal to the Nihil cause. Each tempest is then broken down into: Storms (the Runner’s second in command), Clouds (the veteran soldiers) and Strikes (the general troops). You could advance in status by reputation and by recruiting. Each strike could recruit whoever they wanted to the organization. Once they recruited enough, they could become a Cloud who could then become a Storm and potentially a Tempest Runner.
The only title in the organization that couldn’t be obtained was that of the Eye. They Eye was responsible for providing the “paths”. The Paths were the way in which the Nihil could navigate hyperspace. They were essentially secret tunnels through hyperspace that can be navigated with the right tools and configurations to the ships. This position was inherited from the previous Eye. The Tempest Runners did not know how to obtain the paths or to navigate them. They Eye was responsible for providing the paths to the job and the way home. In turn they received a cut of the credits brought in on the job.
The Nihil were ruled by the three Tempest Runner and the Eye. Every single job the organization pulled off was voted on by these 4 people. The decision was made by majority vote; but, the Eye was given the strength of two votes. This was due to the fact that the Nihil wouldn’t exist without the paths and so the Eye, who was the one to provide the paths, had more say in the jobs. The Tempest Runner and the Eye also split every job equally between the 4 of them. The Tempest Runners in turn would divide their share among their Tempest.
Their fleets were comprised of Sotmships, Clouships and Strikeships, with each Tempest Runner having a Corvette sized flagship.
The Nihil use whatever gear they can find or crudely create. The one thing they all have in common are masks with Filters. Each Nihil member wear a mask that is painted with their Tempest’s colours and pattern. The Nihil are known to use poisons and gases when attacking to mask their approach so all of their masks are fitted with top of the line filters to keep themselves safe on a job.
THE COMICS (MARVEL)
The comics happen almost immediately following the first book. We follow a Jedi Padawan named Keeve Trennis and her Jedi master, a Trandoshian named Sskeer. Sskeer was one of the Jedi that fought in the space battle against the Nihil at the end of the first book. While conducting her tests to become a full Jedi Knight, Keeve and Sskeer must save a civilization from a giant bug attack. They then receive a distress call from a Hutt ship which they in turn investigate. When they arrive to the derelict ship they find that it has been attacked by the Nihil and everyone on board has been killed. They find a large amount of grain for making Bacta and decide to follow the supply to the production world. It’s here where they encounter the Drengir for the first time. The Drengir have been abducting people from the surface of the planet and they end up taking another Jedi named Ceret and Sskeer hostage. Jedi master Avar Kriss arrives in time to help Keeve to rescue her master and the others from the massive plant creatures. The Hutts have been extorting the planet and arrive to protect their investment with a kill squad and several Rancors. The Jedi and the Hutt forces begin fighting until the Drengir surface and begin attacking everyone as they feed on the life force of other beings. The Hutt forces and the Jedi band together and fight the plant creatures to a standstill, it took Sskeer giving his life to convince the Drengir, through a telepathic link they shared, that the “meat was tainted”. This caused the Drengir to flee giving the Jedi and everyone else a chance to plan and come up with a solution to this new threat.
The Drengir were a race of massive sentient carnivorous plants that inhabited worlds all across the galaxy. They were telepathically linked and could infect other species with their spores causing them to fall under the control of the Drengir collective mind. Up until they were disturbed on planet Sedri Minor. Once the single Drengir was awoken and temporarily killed, the rest of them across the galaxy began to awaken threatening to “reap a harvest” across the galactic frontier. They resemble large masses of foliage and can range from colours of green to brown. They burrow deep into the ground and use their telepathic influence to cause people to venture into their tunnels where they attack and consume them.
Jedi master Sskeer was infected by the Drengir and died as a result of the mental exertion he used deceiving the Drengir on Sedri Minor.
The Drengir have an incredible ability to heal. When one was carved in half with a lightsaber, the two halves healed into a new separate Drengir beast. Due to their incredible healing factor, they are largely impervious to blaster fire and blades.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
I know for sure we are going to get more interactions with the Drengir and the Nihil. Knowing that both of these antagonists are all but forgotten in the future of the timeline, it’s obvious that the Jedi and the Republic are somehow going to win the fight. How though? That, I’m not sure. I’m sure that we can expect a LOT of new additional content for this particular era of our favourite galaxy far far away.
The second novel in the series is coming out on Tuesday in hardcover. I know I’ve already ordered mine and I’m waiting patiently for it to get delivered so I can spend most of Canada day reading.
See you next week!